Project Report

Intellectual Merit Independent Field Scrambling (IFS) has relevance to the fields of mathematics with a special emphasis on statistics and parallelizable algorithms, computer science with a special emphasis on databases and cyber-security, and electrical engineering with a special emphasis on digital images. IFS has the potential to transform the way data is used, stored, and shared. Increased options for secure sharing of information is one of the merits of IFS. The parallel structure of the underlying algorithm of IFS allows for possible increases in speed. Other advantages of IFS over some other methods include the lack of data degeneration – especially in images, the retention of file-type and data-structure for protected data, and decreased limitation on the file-sizes that can be handled. Finding access to sources of third-party validation of this method and its impacts across many inter-disciplinary fields is challenging. Proving the underlying concepts and constructing a simple prototype can be done using very basic resources and has been completed. However, testing of the theorized limitations of IFS demands extensive computing resources and has yet to be completed. Broader Impacts It is possible to integrate IFS with other existing cyber-security methods, adding additional layers of security rather than replacing existing security measures. IFS greatly enhances the infrastructure for research partnerships by allowing greater control over access to data, providing new options for the transmission of data, and providing an extra layer of security for stored data. This supports the sharing of data across boundaries of geography, culture, institution, and levels of risk. The dissemination of this encryption-like data-sanitization method is complicated. In consideration of the Bayh-Dole Act, this research may have outcomes that could lead to the formation of a new business. However, since IFS achieves some of the same objectives as encryption technology, there are some restrictions to consider when disseminating the outcomes of this research across international boundaries. The many complexities in dissemination have caused a delay in full dissemination of project outcomes. Publication of research outcomes in a regular research paper may not be the best choice for IFS. The current effort is to apply for an SBIR as a first implementation of IFS in an existing system, if possible. The benefits of IFS are potentially quite wide and would be relevant to a range of applications including electronic medical records, the movie industry, government records and data, banking records, medical research, and social networking. Outcomes Timeline Upon arriving in Beijing, China and meeting my host researcher, I discovered that he would prefer that I exchange my proposed project (IFS) in favor of work related to bioinformatics and statistical genetics, an area of shared interest between my host researcher and one of my favorite professors at my home institution. I attended lectures and read papers related to this new direction as suggested by my host researcher while simultaneously working on IFS in my spare time. For this reason, my host researcher had very little involvement in the development of IFS. He made some contributions by suggesting that IFS be made compatible with genetics data and reviewing the mathematics I had developed for one of the steps of one of the methods. With a few weeks left scheduled in the EAPSI China program, I received an email reminder to consider the protection of proprietary information related to my EAPSI project. I then stopped work on researching IFS, spending my time on the completion of reports and presentations instead. The report I submitted included all required materials but did not provide enabling details about the specific steps needed for implementing IFS. Instead I made comparisons with some existing methods and focused more on the cultural exchange aspects of my work as an EAPSI fellow in my report. Upon returning to my home institution in fall 2011, I contacted Michigan Technological University’s office of industry engagement and filled out an invention disclosure for the IFS database application I had completed in China. I also pursued further interdisciplinary validation of my results within my home institution. I extended the method to include image data applications in spring 2012 as part of a class project and submitted a second invention disclosure to MTU’s industry engagement office. In summer 2012, I attended the MI-GTEA conference, participated in the Wendy Kennedy program, and interviewed possible customers to further develop IFS as a business opportunity. Decisions about applying for a patent or continuing to maintain IFS as a trade secret and forming a new corporation are yet to be finalized. Further development of IFS includes integrating IFS with various existing systems, maximizing the speed of IFS using recent advances in computing, and testing the theorized computing limits of IFS.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Office of International and Integrative Activities (IIA)
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Carter Kimsey
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Thomas Erin M
United States
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